The Primary Tools and Their Correspondences
Each of the five elements (Air, Fire, Earth, Water, and Spirit) has a primary tool associated with it. These elemental tools convey qualities of the element and are used to focus the energy of that element in circle and in other workings. One of the tenets held by the Unicorn Tradition is that a tool cannot be consumed by its own element. Therefore, in contrast to some traditions, wands represent the element of Air and swords the element of Fire. A wand, as part of the living tree, participates in the process of creating oxygen from carbon dioxide, and is therefore a fit representative of the element of Air. Swords and knives are forged and created in Fire, and therefore represent the process of the will and its tempering.
The Pentacle: The primary tool of Earth is the pentacle, or five pointed star (pentagram) surrounded by a circle. Each one of the five points of the pentagram represent one of the five elements and collectively it represents the human body or the microcosm of humanity. When the pentagram is placed within a circle, making the pentacle, it represents the human microcosm in harmony with the Universe or macrocosm. The pentacle therefore also corresponds to the body of the Earth and sits to the East side of the altar as a representative of the element of Earth.
The Athame: The primary tool of Fire is the athame. This is the Witch’s primary tool and is an instrument and extension of the individual’s will. The athame symbolizes many properties of Fire: transmutative force; energy; fiery reds and oranges; and the quality of human will. This tool is used to focus your will and energy and is a symbol of life, protection, the father sun, and the male force within all of us. The athame sits to the South side of the altar, where it should be sheathed or otherwise covered. It has a three-fold dagger (double edged) blade and traditionally has a black handle made of wood wrapped in cloth or leather.
The Chalice: The primary tool of Water is the chalice. The goblet or cup is the symbol of Water, the great mother ocean, and the female principle. The filled chalice can be used for scrying or divination. It is the tool of Water and sits to the West side of the altar. Your primary chalice should be filled with water for the casting of the circle. A second chalice is usually filled with wine or juice and is used during the ‘cakes and wine’ portion of circle.
The Wand: The primary tool of Air is the wand. The wand is an extension of oneself used to focus and direct power, especially that relating to the intellect. It is symbolic of the power of the mind, the power to know, and the power to understand. It is the tool of Air and sits to the North side of the altar. The scepter, as a glorified form of the Wand, represents law and measure.
The Cauldron: The primary tool of Spirit is the cauldron. It is womb, tomb, inspiration, knowledge, wisdom, rest, and rebirth. It may be used as a vessel to hold water for scrying, brewing, or purifying. It may also be used as a vessel for fire, with a candle placed within it symbolizing the fusion of female and male energies in the Spirit. It is the tool of Spirit and sits in the center of the altar or of the circle.
There are many other tools used in the Unicorn Tradition, each with their own purpose and elemental correspondence.